Turkey, US, Russia stage surprise tripartite regional security meeting in Antalya
The top soldiers of Turkey, the United States and Russia have come together in Antalya in a first-of-its-kind tripartite summit, the Turkish military has stated, highlighting developments in Syria and Iraq as top issues of the agenda.
Top commanders gathered in Antalya for two days of meetings for coordination of their military operations in Syria, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on March. 7.
In a written statement issued by the General Staff, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, U.S. Chief of General Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov met in Antalya.
The top soldiers of the three countries have held a number of bilateral meetings in recent months, particularly on security issues in Syria and Iraq, but have never met in a three-way meeting.
The statement said they discussed security issues concerning Syria and Iraq, without further elaborating. The meeting comes as Turkey presses both Russia and the U.S. to cease cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) for defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Turkish PM: They work for coordination in Syria
“Very good coordination is needed to clear Syria of all terrorist organizations. If coordination cannot be achieved, there is risk of a conflict that we do not desire. This is the main objective of the meeting that will continue today and tomorrow,” Yıldırım said at a press conference with his Jordanian counterpart.
The chiefs of staff of the three countries are discussing how they can ensure good coordination in fighting terrorism in the region, the prime minister added.
“They are working for the parties to not interfere with each other’s operations,” Yıldırım said, adding that it is necessary to target “all the elements of terror that prevent peaceful permanent political solution.”
Raqqa ops possible with coordination
Yıldırım had hinted about a military-to-military meeting between the three countries in an interview with the private broadcaster A Haber late on March 6.
“There is no point in doing an operation [on Raqqa] without coordinating with Russia and the U.S. It would be futile and the consequences may become more complicated. For that, there are military, technical negotiations going on,” he said.
He recalled Turkey’s proposal for a joint operation on Raqqa on the condition that the PYD is excluded, but said Washington has not yet replied on this proposal.
“We have conveyed our offer to the U.S. There has not been a formal response yet. So it would not be right to say ‘they have other plans’ just by taking what has been written about the issue into account. But we will not be anywhere there are terrorist organizations. It is that clear,” Yıldırım added.
Meetings aimed at deconflicting of military operations
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, Gen. Valery Gerasimov of the Russian army, and Gen. Akar of the Turkish army are looking to enhance senior-level communications and operational deconflicting of military operations in Syria, the Joint Staff officials said.
Officials suggested that the fact the conversation is necessary is one measure of the success that forces are having in countering ISIL, adding that operations in Manjib and Al-Bab in northern Syria have created a “crowded battlespace.”
Forces are crowding ISIL, especially around Al-Bab, said Army Lt. Gen. Steven Townsend, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. Townsend told Pentagon reporters on March 1 that all forces acting in Syria “have converged literally within hand-grenade range of one another.”